2
  • YES: "Euthanizing this particular kitten was a traumatic, albeit humane necessity."

  • NO: "The geese, having pooped everywhere, made for hideous pets, albethem delicious as an entree."

  • NO: "Most of the pigs were oblivious, albethose closer to the pen showed increasing anxiety."

Why does albeit have no pronoun kin? (Albeshe, albethis, etc.)

  • 6
    For the same reason that he is not cold outside today. – JeffSahol Apr 24 '12 at 18:31
  • Right, albethat not exactly what I asked. lol. – alex gray Apr 24 '12 at 19:09
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    Actually Jeff is spot on. "It's cold outside today" is probably the canonical example of the dummy pronoun at work. – RegDwigнt Apr 24 '12 at 19:21
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/58329/… – Kris May 6 '12 at 7:07
  • Although both answers give some insight, I have doubts. If, as they both claim, "albeit" is a contraction of "although be it that" -- would it not be necessary to say, in the 2nd example: ".. pets, albeit they are delicious as an entree"? And would I reformulate my first clause as "Albeit both answers giving some insight" or "Albeit both answers give ...", only the second one being in line with the theory of the answers --? – Torsten Schoeneberg Jan 17 '17 at 20:14
23

Because the it in albeit is the "dummy it". It's a contraction of "although be it that". There is no such thing as a "dummy them" or a "dummy those" in English.

  • Yes, it's/*they're a long way to Tipperary and a long way to Kerry. – John Lawler Apr 24 '12 at 18:40
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    The it may be a dummy, but is albe for real? Is "albe" a prefix? Only because it joins with it? I'm unaware of it. – Kris Apr 24 '12 at 18:53
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    @AngloSaxon: asterisks are used by linguists to indicate that what's following is ungrammatical. – RegDwigнt Apr 24 '12 at 19:12
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    @John Lawler: Agreed it's a slightly odd construction, but I don't really have a problem with "He gave me it". Nor is it obvious to me why "it" should be different to "this" - and I certainly can't see any problem at all with "They gave me this". – FumbleFingers Apr 24 '12 at 20:53
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    OK, if those don't move you, how about a Ross Constraint violation: *That's the book that Bill married the woman who illustrated. – John Lawler Apr 24 '12 at 22:34
15

Albeit is a contraction of although be it that, meaning something like although it is the case that. So:

  • That's a cool handbag, albeit expensive

means

  • That's a cool handbag, although it is the case that it is expensive

And:

  • Those are cool handbags, albeit expensive

means

  • Those are cool handbags, although it is the case that they are expensive

As RegDwight states, the it in albeit is a dummy subject; it is not an anaphoric (backward) reference to any specific noun in the preceding expression. This is why words such as albeshe do not exist.

  • 1
    It's sort of like French's "Qu'est-ce que c'est", which I always found obscene to write, but sexy and useful to say. – alex gray Apr 25 '12 at 5:21

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